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To the Top of the Case, To The Top of the Hall

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
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Now Pack Away, Box Away, Move Away All! A visit from St. Entropy, who,  like St. Bernard, comes to the rescue of those lost in the drifts.
 ‘Twas the Night before Christmas, with nothing to prove—
We were still reeling from the museum’s big move.
There were boxes and boxes of…still more, smaller boxes,
Full of papers and pictures and foxes and rockses.
Huge jars stuffed with fish and enormous whale testicles
Teeny jars crammed with spiders and vesicles
The movers had helped out by acting as sorters,
Then submitted our names to the film crew of “Hoarders.”
Not a creature was stirring—they were packed in too tight,
Wrapped in paper and foam and unable to bite.
We sat on wood crates and used boxes as tables,
And discovered that…somehow…we’d lost all the labels.
The boxes stretched out to the vanishing point,
But not one helpful word could be found in the joint.
Remember the last scene shown in “The Lost Ark?”
This was seven times worse—and we sat in the dark.
Not a thing had been copied, not a word databased,
And our system collapsed due to very cheap paste.
Without opening every box that we had,
There was no way for us to move into our pad.  
This called for a nightcap. Or several. Or many.
Any solvents unpacked? Why, you guessed it—not any.
So the director (with curses) and curators (with whining)
Settled in for a night of unpacking and mining.
When all of a sudden I heard such a drone
I knew in an instant it must be my phone
I reached in my pocket, turned it on with a snap,
And what should appear but the Dear Santa® app!
It connected to Google and mapped our location,
Then demanded a password for verification.
My phone screen showed something all disjunct and frayed
Like one of those paintings by Thomas Kinkade™.
When, what to my wandering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight androideer
With a jolly old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than banner ads his coursers they came,
And he pulled out his Tablet and downloaded their names.
“Now Cyber! now Ebook! on Dunder! and Twaddle!
We must get there quick, we have no time to dawdle!”
And then in a twinkling, as I watched on the screen
Nick arrived at the door looking fit, lean, and mean.
A curator screamed, “My God!  It’s alive!”
So I aimed for his head and threw an MRM5.
Santa entered the room and got straight to unpacking
With ripping and tearing and general whacking.
He filled all the shelves, crammed the drawers, stuffed the cases,
Racked up the racks, leaving no empty spaces.
In a flash he was finished, and all was unpacked
And snugly assorted, complete and compact.
But nothing made sense, there was no order at all.
And what would not fit had been tossed in the hall.
“But Santa!” I pleaded, “How will we be able
To find the collections with nary a label?”
Santa smiled like a man who’s pulled off a great feat
He tapped on his phone and one box gave a tweet
“I’ve equipped each “thing” with its own RFID tag
They’re findable even stuffed deep in my bag.”
Sure enough every specimen, each object and box,
Now bore that sign of electronic pox.
Santa leaped in his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle
And away they all flew like the down off a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, without missing a beat,
“This system will work…until it’s obsolete.”
(Sally Shelton, John Simmons and Elizabeth Merritt always find the holidays a moving experience.)

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